Over the past year I’ve come along way. In just a few months I’ve managed to complete 30 projects on Free Code Camp. I published an article about how I landed my first internship. I did this while pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering on the side. By my standards it’s been a ridiculously productive year.
Recently however, I’ve been struggling. It’s not because I no longer have the time or energy, but rather I’m not as motivated. Some days I sit down to code, only to stop fifteen minutes later because it’s not “fun”.
“You have to enjoy the process” I tell myself, “If you don’t it’s not worth it”.
And so I stop. “Maybe I just need a break from coding”. I started to believe this was true, until I heard a quote from this Food52 podcast.
“You don’t always feel like cooking. I do talk about the joyfulness of cooking, and the pleasure I take in it. But that doesn’t mean to say that I believe it is always pleasurable and it is always joyful”
I find this to be true in so many aspects of my life. I love the feeling of going to the gym to workout. But sometimes I just want to lay in bed and relax for a bit.
And that’s okay.
But does it mean that I need a break from working out? Most of the time the answer is no. In this modern age it can be easy to be overly romantic about what you spend your life doing. Just because you are following your “passion”, doesn’t mean you have to love every second of your work.
Even the people we admire most still spend a lot of their time working on mundane tasks. People rarely talk about the fact that when you become more successful, it doesn’t make it any easier.
Tim Ferris describes what he felt while writing 4-Hour Workweek.
“On good days, I’d settle for the impulse to slam my own head in a car door.”
For years this idea that work isn’t supposed to be fun was commonly accepted. Probably too accepted. Work can and should be fun. But that doesn’t mean that it will always be enjoyable or that we should expect it to be enjoyable. It’s a small distinction, but for me it was an important mindset shift.
“You cook because you need to get supper on the table. And that act of necessity frees you from the burden of having to enjoy it. And then, you do enjoy it.”
photo by Katie Smith
I love this. Free yourself from the burden of having to enjoy it. I believe that regardless of the medium you choose (writing, cooking, coding, etc.), creating is an act of necessity. It’s beautiful and often fun, but it’s also hard.
If you find yourself constantly dreading what you do, maybe you need to make a change or take time off. Otherwise, maybe you just need to get supper on the table.